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It's Go Time!

SFR's Picks for the Nov. 2 2010 Election

October 27, 2010, 1:00 am

Constitutional Amendments and Bonds
Constitutional Amendment No. 1

Permit the establishment of a college scholarship program for New Mexico military war veterans
CA 1 would create a veterans’ college scholarship program. The program would be available to honorably discharged veterans who have lived in New Mexico for 10 years, have already exhausted all federal educational benefits for veterans and who received a campaign medal for service since Aug. 1, 1990. There is already a veterans’ scholarship program for Vietnam veterans; this amendment works toward making the same benefits available to veterans from more recent conflicts.
SFR Pick: For

Constitutional Amendment No. 2

Allow county officials to serve three consecutive terms instead of two
County officials are currently limited to two four-year terms, after which they can not hold a county office for two years. This amendment would allow them to serve three four-year terms. In other words, county officials would serve for 12 years, barring unforeseen circumstances. The purported argument in favor of this amendment is that some county officials are so knowledgeable and experienced that it’s unfortunate they can’t serve voters for longer. We feel that’s a risk voters can stand to take. A 12-year term creates too much risk for entrenched interests, and eliminates the opportunity for challengers to run for office.
SFR Pick: Against

Constitutional Amendment No. 3

Modernize language on qualified electors
CA 3 is an incredible mess and a waste of voters’ time. The amendment attempts some positive changes to the state’s election laws. For example, it strives to eliminate language that prohibits “idiots” and “insane persons” from voting, and replaces constitutional language that sets the voting age at 21 (it’s 18, by federal law). 

However, the amendment also would eliminate the current constitutional prohibition on voting by convicted felons, and leave this question to the Legislature. Further, it prohibits voting by people who are mentally incapacitated, and defines that incapacity as “persons who are unable to mark their ballot and who are concurrently also unable to communicate their voting preference.”

First of all, the amendment is poorly worded and sounds as though it prohibits felons from voting, when it basically does the opposite. Secondly, it requires voters to agree to a variety of unrelated provisions. Both of these shortcomings could create legal challenges in the future. Finally, it defines someone as mentally incapacitated because he or she is unable to mark a ballot, which is, in fact, a physical act. Voters should not approve constitutional amendments if those amendments can not be written clearly enough to be understood.
SFR Pick: Against

Constitutional Amendment No. 4

Provide a property tax exemption for property of a Veterans’ Organization
This amendment is expected to have minimal impact on other property owners. However, it will allow veterans’ associations to receive a tax break that may often make it feasible for them to continue providing their services to veterans and their families. Further, veterans’ associations would be required to provide proof of their
SFR Pick: For

Constitutional Amendment No. 5

Allow the appointment of certain former members of the legislature to civil offices
Right now, a legislator isn’t allowed to take a state job while serving out his or her term. This amendment would change that provision and allow the legislator to take the state position, as long as he or she quit the Legislature, and as long as the state job wasn’t created while he or she was in office. In other words, if a state lawmaker were inclined to practice favoritism toward a state agency in the hopes of getting a high-paid job with that agency (versus an unpaid political position), the barrier to that dynamic would be lifted. Let’s keep this law, which has been on the books since 1912, in place, shall we?
SFR Pick: Against

Bond Question A, Senior Centers

Bond A provides approximately $7.7 million for senior center projects statewide, including approximately $196,000 in Santa Fe County.
SFR Pick: For

Bond Question B, Library Bonds
Bond B—the library bond—authorizes approximately $7 million for library projects:
    • $2 million to the Department of Cultural Affairs to acquire library books, equipment and library resources for public libraries
    • $1 million for supplemental library resource acquisitions, including books and equipment, and for planning, designing and constructing capital improvements for tribal libraries
    • $2 million to the Public Education Department for library books, equipment, and resources for public libraries statewide
    • $2 million for the Higher Education Department for library books and equipment, and resources for academic libraries statewide
SFR Pick: For

Bond Question C, Public Schools

Bond C provides approximately $5 million for the Public Education Department: $2 million for pre-K classrooms and facilities statewide, $2 million for books and instructional materials, $500,000 for school buses and $500,000 for student-count equipment on school buses.
SFR Pick: For

Bond Question D, Higher Education

Bond D provides approximately $156 million for higher ed and special school projects. In Santa Fe, this includes $3 million for ADA and other improvements at the New Mexico School for the Deaf; $2 million for a regional wellness center for the Santa Fe Indian School; and $750,000 for a science technology and sculpture foundry buildings at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
SFR Pick: For

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